The Highs and Lows

What would you say were the writing highs? 

Your first piece of writing (aka “the I did it” moment!)?

Your first publication credit (the “family start to take you seriously” moment!)?

Your first book acceptance (the “some of the rest of the world start to take you seriously” moment!)?  Sadly, it always is some of the rest of the world…

Writing - the old school way.  The VERY old school way!  Image via Pixabay.
What would you say were your writing lows? 

That first rejection? 
Having your novel come back for the umpteenth time?
Countless short stories turned down?

I recall using a manual typewriter.  Pixabay image.
The great irony, of course, is, with the right spirit and attitude, a writer can use those rejections and set backs to (a) fill them with determination to keep going, (b) to improve on what they do so the turn downs don’t arrive so often as they once did, and (c) recognise all writers go through this.  

There are no shortcuts to publication.  Also, even when published, the learning curve goes on and you have to be open to it.  The writer that doesn’t learn is the one who remains static.  What is static dies, eventually.

As I write now... Pixabay image
So then it is a question of relishing the highs and getting through the lows, which is where the support of understanding writing friends is crucial.  One of the things I love about social media is the fact it makes it easier to stay in contact with said writing friends, especially when you can only meet up face to face once or twice a year.

Plugging in for new ideas, maybe?  Pixabay image.

Writing forums such as the one we have on the ACW website are also useful for this kind of contact (and for sharing helpful advice and tips too).  Going to a good writing conference is invaluable too given that for most of the year we are at our desks, working alone.

Coming up with a great new idea always makes me smile too, as did this image from Pixabay.
Peter, of course, literally had his mountain top experience but his low was clearly his denial of Christ.  (What I love about Peter’s story is his redemption - it offers hope for us all).  So this pattern of highs and lows then is a reflection of life as it is lived and not just the writing life.

Our characters must have their highs and lows.  Without them, there is no conflict yet alone a story.  The highs and lows are not just the story events but what is in those characters.  No villain should be all evil (there must be a decent reason for them acting the way they are, decent to them at least).  No hero should be a goody two shoes. 

An inspiring thought.  Pixabay image.

 Much as I loved Little Women by Louisa May Alcott, I found it easier to identify with Amy or Jo rather than the saintly Beth.  Identifying with your characters is the goal.  The moment a reader does that, the more likely it is they will read on and find out what happens.

Show the flaws.  Show the vulnerabilities.  Show the things the character does well.  Enjoy the process.  And good luck.

Those light bulb moments...  Pixabay image.


  1. Good thoughts, Alison. My greatest critics have always been the family - usually the more distant members too! My latest criticism from one was that in view of my latest book 'I needed to go to a writing class or join a writing group' Ah well, I have got the former booked at our literature festival in Cheltenham! Still learning.

    1. Many thanks for your kind comments. One thing we all need to learn early on as writers is how to block out comments which are not remotely helpful and to take in good criticism that is! I do wonder if some of these comments you mention are down to plain jealousy. At the end of the day you are the one who has written the books! One of the nice things though about writing is you never do stop learning (and this is good for us all in terms of mental health too).

  2. A very interesting and encouraging post. I give an author talk to local groups, in which I include the subject of "the highs and lows of the writing life." After my last talk, some of the audience members said they had never realised before what hard work it was being a writer, or quite how much determination and persistence you need. I think it came as a revelation to them that publication doesn't just drop into your lap!

    1. Many thanks, Sheila. Well done as well for "lifting the veil" about what the writing life is really like. You have to love writing passionately to cope with all the ups and downs.

  3. It's a funny thing, the old writing life isn't it? I like the idea of travelling through the highs and lows at part of a writing community. Thanks for this inspiring post, Allison 🙂

    1. Many thanks, Deborah. Writers have long known they're on a journey. It makes a great deal of sense to enjoy the ride, bumps and all!


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